INTUITIVE INQUIRY AND CONSENSUS
Asking for What You Most Want to Know
“The moment of truth, the sudden emergence of a new insight, is an act of intuition. Such intuitions give the appearance of miraculous flashes, or short-circuits of reasoning.” [Arthur Koestler]
In the earliest experiments with intuition it appeared that a massive and varied volume of new information was available just for the asking. It was correct as far as could be readily determined, and there appeared to be very few conditions on accessing it successfully. This was unbelievable, especially to a young research scientist whose whole career was focused on the generation of new knowledge by the methods of science. Moreover, it was normally presumed that there was no other route for gaining reliable knowledge than the scientific one.
Might this new approach to knowledge be refined and somehow harnessed, with even broader applications in mind to help solve important social, political, environmental, business and philosophic problems? And perhaps for individual use, too, for who isn’t plagued with difficult life problems from time to time and needs help in figuring out who he is, how life works, and how to grow deliberately and happily through his choices and actions?
CAI’s earliest experiments were motivated by these hopeful prospects and a growing vision of the means by which they might be fulfilled.
The main unresolved questions about intuition at the time concerned the accuracy, novelty and consistency of the information, especially across different areas and different intuitives. Just how far might one probe into the breadth and depth of the subject matter? What were its outer limits? Answers to these basic questions were simply not available.
The most immediate need, however, was for a procedure or protocol for asking questions of the intuitives so as to obtain through them the specific information being sought. A systematic inquiry method would be essential if this new opportunity were to be offered for broad use, not just to satisfy my own curious mind.
Features of the Inquiry Process
A few necessary attributes of intuitive inquiry were apparent even at this early stage, and they helped to define a systematic method of inquiry.
First, the information received from different intuitives on the same topic was turning out to be very much the same, even down to its details. This remarkable consistency suggested that a common source of knowledge somehow existed and was being tapped, independent of the individual intuitives. It also suggested that it might not always be necessary to seek consensual information from multiple intuitives, as we were doing. Both of these conjectures remained to be confirmed, though we had no good ideas about the mysterious source.
Second, the different intuitives seemed to be nearly equally capable at providing detailed information, despite major differences in background, age, gender, education, employment, religious beliefs and mode of access (some were in trance and some not). Some had preferences about particular topics but their personal qualifications appeared to be irrelevant to both the content and the depth of the inquiry. So long as they could provide the new information clearly, personalities seemed unrelated to content. This discovery suggested that the main qualification for expertness was a solid connection with the “source, whatever it might be. Intuitive skill was turning out to be not so exceptional after all. Qualified “expert” intuitives were not as rare as we had originally assumed.
Third, explanations of the background and motives behind the questions seemed to be unnecessary and could be skipped. It was as if the intuitive source already “knew” what was wanted and was just politely waiting for me to stop talking. Perhaps the questioning was needed for my sake or to help focus the inquiry. In any case, some kind of nonverbal and unexpressed communication with the source was obviously taking place at a mental rather than a spoken level. This aspect raised more questions than could be considered at the time. It was taken merely as a observed fact and simply accepted, without assuming it to be literally true at every moment.
How to Ask Questions?
“Advances are made by answering questions. Discoveries are made by questioning answers.” [Bernard Haisch]
Fourth, and perhaps most important, the accuracy of the intuitive information, as far as could be determined from preliminary checking, depended strongly upon the clarity, specificity and precision of the questions asked of the intuitives. Ordinary conversational dialog and interview would not do. Even the refined skills employed by professionals such as courtroom prosecutors, police investigators and media interviewers appeared to be inadequate, for they were actually very ambiguous. I discovered that the questions should be clear, unambiguous, direct and to the point of what I most wanted to know, without hidden assumptions or a bias toward a desired or expected answer. This was closer to the scientific precision I was familiar with, so it was not hard to adopt this approach. 
As the inquiry protocol evolved in this direction the requested information flowed ever more abundantly and smoothly, even on highly technical and detailed matters and as new intuitives were added to the staff. Reverse requests were sometimes asked for clarification but information were never denied. No obvious contradictions or errors were arising, based on what I already knew or could easily find out. This was a great surprise, almost incredible, since the historical record of information given by clairvoyants, mediums, psychics and similar prognosticators was well known to be inaccurate, variable and vague—not the qualities needed for obtaining reliable and useful information.
As the experiments continued it became obvious that more thorough checking of accuracy, versatility and breadth of application of the intuitive responses would be necessary. It would have to be validated at some point if it were to be applicable in the social and technological worlds. But at this point there appeared to be little air any limit on what might be discovered through intuitive inquiry.
Applied Intuition was born—but it still had a long ways to go.
The Inquiry Protocol
The method of inquiry adopted for research issues took advantage of all four of the above features and embodied them into the following systematic procedure. After selection of a topic, a brief review of the literature was conducted to determine roughly what was already known, what was not yet known and what appeared to be blocking further understanding. Then the main inquiry questions were prepared and refined as just described, including subquestions to be posed in reaction to the different directions in which answers to the main questions might take, and so on for a level or two downward.
One or more expert intuitives were then chosen, appointments set up and one or more inquiry sessions conducted independently with them according to this protocol. All sessions were tape recorded and the recordings transcribed by a team of volunteers, who seemed to appreciate that they were involved in something new, special and important. This protocol was refined as more experience was gained. 
The practice of interviewing multiple intuitives independently, on the same topic and with the same questions, evolved naturally, first from the desire to make comparisons and then with the hope of improving accuracy by forming a consensus of agreeing responses. We began consensus studies with three intuitives but soon expanded to more, in one case a total of ten during an early period before the intuitives were fully qualified and the questioning perfected. It settled down later to three or four, and even then their responses became so repetitious that there seemed to be little value in such multiplicity for the sake of the information itself. However, occasional exceptions to the consensus supplied secondary insights and ideas for further questions, so the redundancy was often retained on subjects that were either complicated or for which almost nothing was already known.
Consensus was never used for consulting and personal counseling, where it was neither necessary nor expected, since clients were present and were free to ask further for whatever they felt was incomplete or not clear. While I and a few others at CAI sometimes sought repetitions of personal counsel, the sessions were spaced out over time so the questions expanded as we ourselves expanded in the particular topics being explored.
Analysis and Verification
“The rational part of research would, in fact, be useless if it were not complemented by the intuition that gives scientists new insights and makes them creative.” [Fritjof Capra]
For each area being explored (initially about twenty, but it soon settling down to ten), consensual findings and leftover non-consensual insights were compared with knowledge already publicly available in books and journal articles (which were not themselves always correct). They were examined for credibility, novelty, consistency, accuracy and applicable content, both for the entire area of inquiry and for each apparently significant insight and fragment of information within it. The coverage was broad rather than thorough at this point, since it was clear that complete validation would be a major time-consuming task. In some areas it may have to wait months or years until external confirmations from non-intuitive sources accumulated.
Most of the intuitive information was therefore simply filed away for possible future use. In a few areas the early confirmations were strong enough that they could be presented or published to test external interest in this novel intuitive approach for acquiring new knowledge. Some of the most spectacular and “incredible” findings were discussed privately with organizations who might be willing to evaluate, test and perhaps utilize them. However, the information was usually controversial and doubted and generated no interest at the time. A few findings in science contradicted accepted ideas and approaches and were summarily rejected by the recipients, since they would have serious impact if they were accepted as correct. (These were proven correct many years later.)
In retrospect the main barrier to acceptance was not the information itself but the unfamiliar intuitive source from which it came. These potential recipients were looking for credibility first at the source, and only then at the content. It was apparent that formal verification of our intuitive findings would be necessary, according to scientific, societal or other already accepted standards, before they would be seen as credible, acceptable and possibly useful.
Since we had neither the facilities, funding nor other resources that would be required for this purpose, verification would have to wait. The file drawers filled up with much interesting, novel and often challenging information. Excitement arose occasionally among a few potential users who saw the future of this novel approach, but none was found who has the combination of vision, courage and resources to step into the next and necessary stage of applying intuition in their own fields and careers. For the time being our task had to be confined to “data gathering.” This we did.
Conditions for a Successful Inquiry
To jump ahead twenty to twenty-five years, it finally became possible in some of the more testable areas to verify the findings for correctness against published results from conventional, non-CAI research which had been conducted during the interim. This comparison effort was successful. It then became possible to assess empirically CAI’s overall experience with applied intuition and make a verified claim that intuitive inquiry is an effective and practical means for obtaining new information not otherwise obtainable.
We also derived the particular conditions on which rest this novel method of generating knowledge using expert intuitives, so that others may employ it in the future and expect to succeed. There were four such conditions:
- The intuitive should be expert, as defined earlier.
- The questions asked should be unambiguous, clear, to-the-point, specific and not biased by the questioner’s personal views or what he expects or wants to hear, also as explained earlier.
- The inquirer should have a clear and positive intention to actually make use of the new information.
- The consequences of actually applying the new information should be harmless.
The third condition evolved from some early, poorly motivated inquiries that were undertaken more from curiosity than their practical or theoretical import. Judging from later experience, it is doubtful that this information would ever have been found useful.
The fourth condition pertains not only to the inquiry itself but to the future consequences when the information is shared with others and applied. We must recognize that these later consequences are not yet known. This condition may appear to be fully satisfied at the time of the inquiry, but the results of the application lie in the future and cannot be assumed to be under the inquirer’s control. This condition is therefore a statement of responsibility for consequences which must be accepted by the inquirer, just as in all scientific pursuits, whose applications and implications extend into future generations. This condition does not necessarily restrict the inquiry but it does assign responsibility for the consequences from the inquiry protocol to the inquirer and subsequent users.
It is tempting to assume that the intuitive source (whatever it is) is overseeing the eventual use of the information it provides and can be trusted to block any potentially harmful information at the start (as it did once in an investigation of nuclear decontamination, discussed elsewhere). However, I have not found an acceptable and practical basis for making this assumption, either for myself or for those who choose to apply CAI’s experience reported therein. For myself I simply avoided asking questions whose answers I suspected might be harmful (such as the design of a new weapon or information that might defame someone) as the information became public.
The four conditions stated above are claimed to be sufficient for intuitive inquiry to function, and they appear to be necessary as well. For scientific inquiries they may turn out to be somewhat lacking on both scores, however. This is partly because the future applications are still completely unknown; also, because of imprecisions in the notions of “expert,” the questioning protocol, personal intention and even recognition of what is harmful and what is not. Finally, we know too little of the ethical position of the unknown source from which the intuitive information is coming. We suppose it to be highly spiritual and in the best interests of mankind, as our long experience suggests, but there may be hidden exceptions that will arise as our limited understanding of the intuitive sources improves. Additional conditions may be needed in the future on the topics, situations and protocol other than those that have been followed in CAI inquiries.
Who is Responsible?
Indeed, there is more to intuitive inquiries in practice than asking questions and receiving answers. At the very least the protocol must deal with clients’ questions which may be unprepared, ambiguous, are malicious or contain incorrect assumptions or hidden intentions. It must also allow for answers that could be easily misinterpreted or harmful if applied carelessly. The possible harm could be either physical, such as vague medical advice or a mistaken enemy, or more psychological such as probing another’s privacy or giving advice which the client cannot handle.
There is a shared responsibility here between the intuitive source and the client. Until we understand the source better we will be inclined to assume that it will not intentionally deceive or manipulate the inquirer and later users, regardless of future and unseen consequences. At the same time the inquirer must be responsible for errors in his own beliefs, which govern the form of his questions, the counsel he is willing to act upon, his interpretation of the information he receives and the response he chooses. If advised to quit a good job before the company goes bankrupt, should he do so? Should she trust intuitive counsel on the suitability of a prospective marriage partner? How is he to react to the news that his wife has a secret lover? Is is possible that information is being withheld? What happens when an inquirer naively asks innocent questions whose honest answers can cause harm? It appears that both source and client will sometimes be called upon to balance one party’s gain with another’s loss.
These issues, which are hidden within the broad notion of “harmful,” are reflections of a natural division of responsibility between source and client. This is no different from the giving of any requested advice. The dangers may lessen as trust develops but the risks are inherent. They cannot be avoided or fully resolved by making the conditions for success of intuitive inquiries more precise.
Some of the intuitive information given in past centuries certainly appeared to have a very harmful consequence, though we cannot tell from the poor historical record just where lay the responsibility for it. It could fall on either the the inquirer, the intuitive, the source, the user or the reporter of the event. Indeed, it may have happened anyway, independent of the intuitive input.
These four conditions for the success of intuitive inquiries as offered here can be taken only as temporary guidelines until more can be learned about the natural laws that govern the inquiry process, and the proper allocation of responsibility among the several parties who are involved.
- These guidelines were not always followed by intuitive counselling clients when asking their questions, which were often vague or ambiguous. The information they received was usually close to what they wanted but only clumsily asked for, but sometimes it was literal or playful to compel them to rethink what they would really like to know. ↑
- There are too many to name individually, except for Janet Kiyo Brockman, who worked with CAI faithfully as an unpaid volunteer for more than ten years. Great thanks to you, Janet! ↑